Remembering Russ Nelson by Toni Lumbrazo Luna and Christopher Luna

This Summer we received the sad news that Russ Nelson died on June 30. Russ and his wife, Julie O’Mara, have been regular participants in the reading series for several years. Members of the community who knew Russ shared memories and poems for and by our friend at Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic on August 11.

Julie’s portrait of Russ

In October a celebration of life was held at Frenchman’s Bar in Vancouver, WA.

For Julie (Russ’s spouse)

By Toni Lumbrazo Luna

Hold close loved ones

feel the nearness—not

broken by space and

time—but living on,

inside us—by memory,

in dreams—

    it is what we have


    within our hearts.

Christopher Luna and Julie O’Mara
Some of Russ’s personal items

Unending Conversation with Russ

By Christopher Luna

lean in

close enough

to enjoy the shape

of my straw hat

hear the



of tales of

man’s folly

magical forests

and great literature

later we’ll

stand on the sidewalk

truly enjoy each other

as we contemplate

the new world

our kindnesses

might create

Friends and family members take Russ’s ashes to the river.

Book Launch for Christopher Luna’s Voracity with special guests Angelo Luna and Toni Lumbrazo Luna at Birdhouse Books January 6, 2023

Join us for First Friday with The Lunas (Christopher Luna, Toni Lumbrazo Luna, and Angelo Luna) featuring the Vancouver book launch for Christopher Luna’s Voracity (Lightship Press, 2022)

From Birdhouse Books: “It’s a family affair: Christopher Luna, Toni Lumbrazo Luna, and Angelo Luna will be joining us for the return of our First Friday Poetry Series!

Christopher Luna, co-host of Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic and co-founder of Printed Matter Vancouver, has just released his new poetry collection, VORACITY, from Lightship Press, and will be joined by his wife Toni Lumbrazo Luna, co-founder of Printed Matter Vancouver and local poetry powerhouse, and his son Angelo Luna, who co-authored the father-son poetry collection EXCHANGING WISDOM.”

Friday, January 6
Birdhouse Books
1001 Main Street Basement
Vancouver, WA 98660

Voracity, featuring poetry and collages by Christopher Luna, is now available from Lightship Press or the author.

Voracity by Christopher Luna

“Brutally honest confessional poetry, Christopher Luna’s Voracity conjures a beatific earnestness which transcends pain and suffering through acts of lyrical, life-affirming grace and redemption.” David Madgalene, author of Call Down the Angel

In this revealing poetry collection, Luna invites readers on a candid and intimate journey behind the mask of a public figure as he grapples with identity, body image, and the enormity of his hungers.”

Driven By Hope by Toni Lumbrazo Luna
Printed Matter Vancouver, 2019

Driven By Hope is Toni Lumbrazo Luna’s third book of poetry. It contains glimpses into the lives of people she has met throughout her career as a Social Worker and Life/Career Coach. These poems are based on real life and Toni takes them to new places inside her imagination. Perhaps you will see yourself through her eyes. Order Driven By Hope here:

Exchanging Wisdom: A Guide for Parents of the Autonomous
The Poetry Box, 2021

Exchanging Wisdom features poems for and about Christopher’s son Angelo Luna, as well as a few pieces Angelo wrote for Christopher. The earliest poem was written when Angelo was three, and the most recent at age 21. Christopher endeavored to encourage his son to be an autonomous, freethinking individual. Angelo grew to become that and so much more. Taken as a whole, the poems in this collection track the development of Angelo’s personality and the strong bond between father and son.

Christopher Luna is a true heir to the Beat and New York School traditions of candor and grandeur. This collaboration and celebration of life runs on impeccable timing and deep love. As Luna and his son Angelo exchange wisdom they also re-invent the meaning of open verse: these poems crack open the heart and spill the joy of parenthood into the world.

—Lisa Jarnot, author
Robert Duncan, the Ambassador from Venus

One day you’re gonna have to…remind me how to believe in the basic goodness of all beings, Christopher Luna tells his son, Angelo, in his latest book, Exchanging Wisdom. More than a collection of father-son poems, Exchanging Wisdom is a record of gratitude. Luna knows that to be a parent is to be both teacher and pupil, vulnerable and responsible. In every poem Luna’s love beams: Like Lone Wolf and Cub we traversed…and you reminded me that magic is real…. These poems contemplate our never-ending wars, sickness, apathy, and art-making through the lens of a deeply reverent father. For some, being a parent, being the adult, is synonymous with having the answers. Luna, a Buddhist poet, community-organizer, and activist, reminds us that questioning is the only way to truth. What are you afraid to find? he wonders. Are these the right questions to ask? In these mind- and heart-opening poems Luna invites us to experience pure joy and wonder again through memory and thankfulness. Once you’ve opened those doors/ you need never do so again, asserts Luna. Once father you cannot go back to your former life. Thankfully for us, Luna never did.

—Claudia F. Savage, author of Bruising Continents

What happens during The Work poetry writing workshop? Information for newcomers

Excited to try your hand at a generative writing workshop but feeling a bit nervous about what to expect? The following is excerpted from a recent email response I sent to a writer who enquired about what they might expect from The Work poetry writing workshop:

My workshops tend to attract 4-6 poets per session. We sometimes begin by hearing one poem from those who care to share one. I do this because poetry is an oral tradition, and because hearing a few poems before we begin can help put us in the right frame of mind to begin creating something from nothing.

We then spend the next hour or so engaged in three separate timed writing exercises. I send out handouts with example poems that will be used during the writing period. Beside or beneath each poem is a series of writing prompts inspired by the poem. Each prompt has some relationship to either the content, style, or technique found in the example. I provide more than one prompt because I realize that not everyone will relate to or be interested in each one. 

I like to give people options, and to send them away with writing prompts for a rainy day. Many writers tell me that they sometimes have trouble maintaining their writing practice when they are not in the workshop. If you hold on to the handouts, you will begin to acquire a collection of prompts for those times when you may want to write yet feel uninspired. 

You also always have the option of freewriting something based on whatever struck you in the poem. 

The last hour of the workshop is spent hearing at least one poem from each writer, then sharing constructive feedback on their drafts. Because all of the poems we are discussing are first drafts, this is not a hard critique. You do not need to have any particular skills or educational background to participate. I simply ask each poet to respond as a reader and a human being, in order to let each writer know what she has accomplished so far, how/what the poem is communicating, and a few ideas for what might be done in the future should the writer choose to revise the piece.

Looking to follow your bliss in 2023? Take a poetry or memoir writing workshop with Christopher Luna.

Have a friend who might benefit from a creative writing workshop? Purchase one for them for the holidays.

I lead creative writing workshops and classes year-round. I am also accepting new coaching clients and manuscripts for editing. If you are looking for writing coaching, editing/manuscript review, or information about poetry and memoir classes, send me an email via

You can read all about it on the Printed Matter Vancouver website: